Musical Direction

Our Conductors


‘The only orchestra in Hampshire with two conductors?!’


David Budd was handed the baton from Graham Cross in 2007, his conducting debut was in December 2003.  David has enjoyed just over 10 years as Principal Conductor of Alton Concert Orchestra whilst also keeping his seat at the back of orchestra in the Trumpet section.


I was very fortunate to take over from Graham just before the first ‘Last Night of the Proms’ concert on 14th July 2007. As it was Bastille day, we decided to have a bit of a French theme by kicking things off with the can-can, and the ‘prom theme’ has stuck ever since.


[Quote from CODA Issue July 2012] “..As a child I was dragged along to hear classical concerts given by the Hatfield Philharmonic Orchestra, where the mannerisms of the rather stuffy conductor were far more entertaining than the actual music. It was always a bit of a mystery to me why, at the start of each half, one of the players would wander on late and get a special round of applause. So far as I could work out, apart from sitting at the front in a chair kindly reserved for them, the late-comer did nothing particularly deserving of this extra acclaim. Little did I realise then that I would later find myself on the podium in the best position to understand not only the importance of the Leader of the orchestra, but also the very special relationship that exists between Leader and conductor. I discovered the importance of this relationship very early on in my time as a conductor of ACO. I had the good fortune to have the support and guidance of Mac Newton, who encouraged and advised me during my apprenticeship, and, amazingly, tolerated my frequent mistakes and at times dubious musical interpretation. One of the hardest things about conducting is trying to convey to the players how you want something to sound. I am still trying to hone that skill…”




Chris Gardner, son of the composer John Gardner, began his musical training at the Royal College of Music Junior Department where he studied timpani, percussion, clarinet and piano, and then at Sussex University where he took a degree in music. Most of his working life was spent at the Performing Right Society, where he had a number of jobs including that of IT Director, and he finished his working days as Managing Director of ICE Services AB, a Swedish Company owned by PRS and its Swedish counterpart, STIM. Musical activity took an increasingly back seat as his professional career developed, but as retirement came in sight, from about 2007, he began easing himself back into musical disciplines.


Not only is Chris joint conductor of the Alton Concert Orchestra, he often plays piano for other local choirs and performing groups such as AODS, as well as conducting Cantique chamber choir since 2010.  He is a versatile musician, working as a composer, timpanist, accompanist, conductor and occasional clarinettist. His Te Deum was performed by the Holybourne Singers in October 2015 and he regularly writes music for Alton’s Last Night of the Proms in the Alton Public Gardens. These works have included Fiesta Telefonica for mobile phone (performed by the town mayor) and orchestra, A Hampshire Suite for country dance band and orchestra, and his latest, Dances of the British Isles, were performed at the 2015 concert.  Last year saw the first performance of Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning, at the annual Wonder of Christmas Concert in Alton Maltings, written in memory of Mac Newton and dedicated to everyone who has been involved in Alton’s Wonder of Christmas concerts.

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